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As we stumble along our journey of building Oldfield into everything we hope it can be, we discover other individuals on a similar journey. In our next piece for the Oldfield Journal, we headed over to the Baltic Triangle on the Eastern side of Liverpool to sit down with contemporary and figurative artist Mia Cathcart and have a chat about her life as an artist.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Originally from Wolverhampton, Mia moved to Liverpool in 2012 to study a Bachelor of Fine Art followed by a Masters. Once her studies were over in 2016 she visited Budapest for nine weeks for an artist residency at BARTR. Having fallen in love with Liverpool when she first moved, once the residency was finished in Budapest, she came straight back to the North West, where she knew she wanted to base herself as a painter.
When thinking back to what inspired her to pursue a future in art, she tells us “some of my earliest memories are of drawing portraits, little stick women with upside down triangles for dresses, it’s something I’ve always loved doing. I’m not sure at what age I realised that being an artist was what I wanted to do for a living, but I don’t remember ever wanting to do something else.”
Mia realised “this is what I want to do” when she was 19, studying her pre university foundation year, visiting exhibitions from artists like Lucien Freud & Marlene Dumas. “When I started seeing more art, going to exhibitions and brooding my idea of what art actually was, that’s when I became really interested in it.” Since then Mia’s growth into the world of art has seen her work shared around the globe, with exhibitions internationally and her work held in private collections in London, New York and Budapest.
ABOUT YOUR STUDIO
As part of The Royal Standard on the edge of the Baltic Triangle, Mia can be found here most days working away in her studio. The Royal Standard is an Artist led gallery, studio complex and social workspace, dedicated to fostering opportunities for the most outstanding of emerging artists. Working there “gives you that support network and sense of community that’s a really important resource when you’re self-employed, particularly doing something like painting which is very singular and isolating.”
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Mia predominantly paints portraits of women, working from second hand imagery, not from life or people she knows. “The first thing people say or ask me when they see a painting is ‘I think I’ve seen that person before,’ or ‘that looks like…’ or ‘the woman in the painting reminds me of…’ and I like this sense of familiarity people have with the subjects in my painting. That tension between familiarity and anonymity.”
More recently Mia has been painting crops of a portrait, such as a torso, ear, or hand, and leaving the rest of the portrait absent. “Doing this allows the viewer to create a more intimate dialogue with the painting, and more room to imagine what the rest of the portrait might look like beyond the constraints of the canvas. I think we’re in an age with social media where we’re saturated with images of faces, and just scrolling through them, and I guess painting a portrait slows this down a little bit.”
“I love working at a large scale and this is how I really started painting. I love the freedom and fluidity you can get with large brushstrokes. But I’ve started working on smaller scale paintings too; working smaller I can produce quicker, and so can explore and test more ideas and compositions. I never work on just one painting, but on several at once, working across them at the same time. It stops them becoming stagnant. Plus, I mix all my own colours so it means I can repeat colours across the canvases, so that the paintings work well together in a series.”